News Column

Blogger Yoani Sanchez Detained in Cuba

Oct. 5, 2012

Award-winning Cuban opposition blogger Yoani Sanchez has been detained, pro-government blogger Yohandri Fontana said.

Sanchez was taken into custody late Thursday in the eastern Cuban city of Bamayo, Fontana wrote. She had been planning to attend the start of the trial there on Friday of Spanish right-wing politician Angel Carromero for the traffic accident in which Cuban dissident leader Oswaldo Paya and another man were killed in July.

According to Fontana, Sanchez had travelled to stage "a provocation and a media show that harmed the proper course of the trial." The pro-government blogger said Sanchez's husband Reinaldo Escobar had also been detained.

Short-term detentions of dissidents are frequent in Cuba. The government uses the detentions to prevent dissidents from voicing their opposition to the authorities during high-profile events, which recently included Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the island. The detainees are usually released soon after such events take place.

Carromero, 27, a member of Spain's ruling People's Party, faces two counts of negligent homicide, and the public prosecutor is seeking a seven-year prison term, the pro-government website Cubadebate reported.

Carromero was driving the car when it crashed into a tree on July 22 near Bayamo.

Payo and fellow dissident Harold Cepero died, while Carromero and Swedish politician Jens Aron Modig suffered minor injuries. Paya, 60, and Cepero had been riding in the back seat and were not wearing seat belts.

The official investigation showed "categorically" that Carromero was speeding at the time of the crash on a stretch of road that was being repaired, Cuban authorities said shortly after the accident.

Carromero was discharged from a hospital within a day, and has since been held by Cuban authorities.

Cuban dissidents and Paya's family had expressed doubts about the nature of the accident and voiced suspicions of foul play. Both Carromero and Modig, however, said in Cuba that it was just an accident with no other vehicles involved.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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